After watching this interview with Jeff Skinner, I started to think about the talented player’s upcoming season. Ok, ok…if you know me, I just didn’t start thinking of Skinny’s performance today, but work with me here.
Let’s quickly recap …
The former Kitchener Ranger star was drafted 7th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010. He quickly made an impact with his new team earning 63 points (31g, 32a) in 82 games during the 2010-11 season. His performance earned him Rookie of the Year. His sophomore season proved more challenging with a concussion and suspension (a result of a major issue I’ll discuss shortly). He laced up for 64 games in 2011-12 to earn 44 points (20g, 24a).
The Skinny Challenge…
As Skinner mentioned in his interview with Cabbie, he must deal with the targeted pressure from opposing players. Clearly, his lashing out only fueled the fire and others quickly cashed in on this reactionary behavior. I’m not saying he should belly-up and take it all the time, but let’s look at how other athletes performed in (somewhat) similar situations.
LeBron James perfected this part of his game early in his career. Opposing players would try to shut him down in the paint and attempt to get under his skin. His reaction? Ignore the behavior and focus on his game. Cleveland fans knew when James got mad, James got busy. He would retaliate by gaining triple-doubles. The sports and players are very different in this situation, so let me give you another story.
Tiger Woods may not have other players defending his shots, but when he lost his Dad to cancer, he used that as fuel to rise above his sorrow in the British Open.
“I miss my dad so much. I wish he could have been here as he thoroughly enjoyed watching me grinding out major championships. He was out there today keeping me calm. I had a very calm feeling all week, especially today. Walking down the last hole, I had a chance to enjoy this moment. After my last putt, I realized my dad’s never going to see this again. I wish he could have seen this one last time,” said an emotional Woods.
Michael Jordan was once heckled by a fan for dunking on a shorter player in John Stockton and his reaction was dunking on 7’1” Mel Turpin. His response to the fan became famous, “Is that big enough?”
Skinner isn’t a 6’8” 250 lbs LeBron James. He isn’t a solo athlete like Tiger. He also isn’t bantering with a cocky fan. My point is athletes become passionate and channel their focus for a variety of reasons when the need calls for it. I have no doubt Jeff Skinner will take this challenge to bring his game to a new level this season. Last season was a lesson, which he has admitted in numerous interviews.
No way I am jinxing Skinny with a prediction. It seems every bet and prediction I made last season caused the opposite to happen. I’ll simply say it will be an important year for Skinner and I will be there to cheer him on.
One of the aspects I respect most in hockey is players coming to each other’s aid. The below video illustrates this point in regards to Skinner. In my opinion, Tim Gleason is our most physical (and threatening) defenseman. How much should the other players come to Skinner’s defense? I’m not saying Skinner shouldn’t fight his own battles, but there is an expectation for other players to step up to a certain degree . Do you think the Canes do a solid job of defending their own? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment section.
Thanks for reading. You may follow CardiacCane on Facebook and Twitter: @CardiacCane, @Caniac176, @Caniac_John, and @PJT_Caniac.